SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- KY3 News first reported Thursday that a Wyoming company has a proposed plan to open a horse slaughter and processing plant for human consumption near Mountain Grove.
It's a proposal that's finding controversy. Those who work with horses agree their value has gone down significantly in the last several years, and that horses are a luxury. In a poor economy, many owners find they can no longer afford to care for their horses. Some turn to places like sale barns, others to horse rescues.
Some in the Ozarks are outraged. Others believe a horse slaughter and processing plant near Mountain Grove would be a good move. "The best thing that ever happened to horse welfare was human consumption of horse meat," says Sue Wallis, CEO of Unified Equine, LLC.
Wallis believes horse slaughter in the U.S. would cut down on the number of neglected and malnourished horses.
"I think it would be a very very hideous crime, a black eye on the Ozarks. This is horse country. We need to be known for the care and love of the horse," says Scott Litherland of Alder Hill Farm, a horse rescue in Polk County.
Alder Hill Farm is currently home to more than 90 horses, rescued from auctions or owners who could no longer afford the feed. "Almost every one of these horses would have ended up in slaughter," says Litherland.
Though slaughter for human consumption hasn't happened in the U.S. in several years, that doesn't mean it's stopped. "It's just like a cow sale or anything. They just come from everywhere; the buyers do. We have horses that go back to the farm, to ranches, and we also have pound horses, that go to the slaughter market," says Dwight Glossip, manager of the monthly horse sale at the Springfield Livestock Marketing Center.
The horses at Springfield Livestock Marketing Center will be sold late this Friday evening at the monthly horse sale. Glossip says of the estimated 130 sold at each sale, 45 or 50 are taken to slaughter in Canada or Mexico.